Community Law Center

Lawyers for Neighborhoods & Nonprofits

Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on August 7, 2014.

August 12, 2014

11:00 a.m. cases

Hearings began, with all three commissioners present, at 11:10am.

CharmTV Citizen’s Hub has begun uploading Liquor Board hearings to YouTube – you can watch the YouTube video for the August 7 hearings at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeeOBJyyW-Y or embedded below. The start times for each hearing are noted as part of each case writeup.

I. Changes to the Docket / Requests for Postponements

There were no changes to the docket or requests for postponement. The cases were heard in the order scheduled on the docket.

II. Transfers and Amendments

Disclaimer Community Law Center staff attorney Susan Hughes represented the community association in this case.
Start time on video 6:27
Applicants Robert Cockey & Decoursey Wilson
Business Name Omerta, LLC
Trading As Cockey’s Butchers Hill
Address 32 N. Chester Street
Type of License Class “D” Beer & Wine License
Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership, request for live entertainment, outdoor table service & off-premises catering
Hearing notes

Mr. Abraham Hurdle represented the applicant, Robert Cockey. Ms. Susan Hughes represented the community association for the neighborhood: the Butchers Hill Association. Two members of the community association were present; neither of the two applicants appeared. Hurdle explained that his clients had been confused; they thought that they were scheduled for a 1:00pm hearing.

Chairman Ward asked about the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two sides. Ms. Hughes explained that the Butchers Hill Association supports the transfer under the conditions of the agreement. Some of the conditions include restrictions on the hours of outdoor tables and outdoor alcohol service. The applicants decided to withdraw their request for live entertainment and off-premises catering. Because of the applicants’ confusion about their hearing time, the agreement submitted was unsigned, but Hurdle promised the Board that his clients have every intention of signing it. Hurdle also submitted a petition with signatures in favor of the transfer.

Beth Braun, president of the association, told the Board that the community looks forward to Cockey’s Butchers Hill opening in their neighborhood. She pointed out, however, that only 56 or 58 of the signatories to the petition that Hurdle submitted actually live in Butchers Hill. Ward responded, “that’s so often true. Our fellow commissioner pointed out [on June 26] that [the attorney for Cava Mezze] circulated a petition around the law firm.”

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Butchers Hill
Area demographics 70% White, 8% Black, 5% Asian; 15% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $69,105; 11% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 32 N. Chester St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Abraham Hurdle
# in support 3
Attorney for community Ms. Susan Hughes
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Approved, subject to the restrictions in the MOU.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Start time on video 0:53
Applicants Richard Zhao, Raymond Zhao & Cheok Zhao
Business Name Zhao Brothers, LLC
Trading As Brothers Sushi
Address 1035-37 S. Charles Street
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Request to add live entertainment.
Hearing notes

Former State Senator F. Vernon Boozer represented the applicant. Chairman Ward quipped, “welcome to Baltimore City.” Boozer submitted a letter of support for the application from the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association. The applciatn has agreed to limit the live entertainment to the days and hours of Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 5-11pm.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Federal Hill
Area demographics 80% White, 12% Black, 4% Asian; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $78,578.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 1035-37 S. Charles St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. F. Vernon Boozer
# in support 1
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Approved
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

III. Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days

Start time on video 2:50
Applicants Shannon Glanville & Lores Glanville
Business Name Glanville, Inc.
Trading As Glanville’s
Address 4017-19 Eastern Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days
Hearing notes

Mr. James Glanville, who was not an applicant for the liquor license, requested a hardship extension, explaining that the repairs that he had to make to the building were extensive. He asked the Board for an extension of thirty days from the date of the hearing. He was accompanied by his young daughter. Commissioner Moore said, “I notice you have a young lady with you,” adding, “she looks too young to be working on construction.”

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Brewers Hill
Area demographics 66% White, 9% Black, 3% Asian; 20% Hispanic ethnicity; 17% households have children under age 18; median household income: $60,484; 15% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 4017-19 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 3
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Approved (30 day extension)
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

Finding 6 of the 2013 Legislative Audit stated that “the BLLC did not always ensure that license transfers were completed within 180 days.” As Booze News has noted many times before, Article 2B section 10-503(d)(4) does not give the Board the authority to issue hardship extensions on license transfers. The statute says: “A transfer of any license shall be completed not more than 180 days after the Board approves the transfer.” According to a plain language interpretation of the provision and according to an Attorney General’s opinion on the provision, a transfer expires as a matter of law 180 days after its approval. There is no provision for hardship extensions in this section of the Code, and the Board does not have the authority to grant extensions.

Start time on video 4:40
Applicant Michael Felner
Business Name Pigtown Ale House, LLC
Trading As Pigtown Ale House
Address 1415 Washington Boulevard
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days
Hearing notes

Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth noted that there was a postponement request in the file, which she had not previously seen.

Zoning R-8
Neighborhood Washington Village/Pigtown
Area demographics The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA) did not have demographics available for Washington Village/Pigtown.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 2203 Linden Ave, Baltimore, MD 21217
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 0
Result of hearing Postponed
Vote tally The Commissioners didn’t vote.
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

1:00 p.m. cases

IV. Violations

Start time on video 22:50
Licensee Donald Owens
Business Name Mombee TLC, Inc.
Trading As Club Bunns
Address 606-08 W. Lexington Street
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License/ Adult Entertainment
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 3.12: “Licensees shall operate their establishments in such a manner as to avoid disturbing the peace, safety, health, quiet, and general welfare of the community” (Re: May 15, 2014, Police and Liquor Board Inspector witnessed fights outside the club)

Violation of Rule 3.02: “Licensees shall cooperate with representatives of the Board, members of the police department, Health Department, Building Engineer’s office, Grand Jury and representatives of other governmental agencies whenever any such persons are on official business” (Re: May 15, 2014, DJ did not take heed of officers instruction and had to be warned with the possibility of being arrested)

Hearing notes

Baltimore Police Detective L.C. Greenhill testified on May 15 at 1:00am, he was passing by the establishment and observed several police vehicles parked outside. There were several officers surrounding two suspects, who were allegedly engaged in a fight at the club. Greenhill stopped his car to provide further assistance to the officers. Police had responded to one fight outside the establishment and had broken it up. Another fight had happened later on the same evening, and the police decided to stay on the scene in order to prevent further fights. Detective Greenhill brought CitiWatch camera footage with him that he was told showed the two fights, but Greenhill had not watched the footage himself, so he did not know for sure whether it showed the two fights or not. The police made the decision to shut the club down for the night, to protect public health and safety. Greenhill told the manager, Mr. Coles, to shut down the bar; Mr. Coles went inside the bar, and Greenhill continued to hear music from inside. When he went inside, patrons were still drinking and the DJ was still playing. Greenhill told the DJ to turn the music off and told the patrons to leave, that the club was closed. According to Greenhill, the DJ, a Mr. Santos, became belligerent and was cursing and shouting at the officers. Greenhill informed Mr. Santos that if he did not stop shouting and cursing, he would be arrested. Upon questioning from the Commissioners, Greenhill clarified that Mr. Santos was shouting and cursing in general about the situation, not at the police officers personally. The licensee, Mr. Owens, was present and was asking why his bar was being closed. Liquor Board inspector Karen Brooks was also there and talked with Mr. Owens. Mr. Peter Prevas made a continuing objection to any of Greenhill’s testimony that contained hearsay, which was overruled.

Prevas then cross-examined Detective Greenhill. In response to his questions, Greenhill noted that he did just happen to drive by the establishment, that he was not called there. No one was arrested due to the fights, though a few people were detained and questioned briefly. He did not remember the names of all the officers who were present, off the top of his head. The fight was not going on when he arrived at the scene; it had already been broken up. The people inside the bar were not acting in a disorderly way. He testified that he was dressed in a police vest, with the word POLICE across it, and he displayed his police badge. He said that he was two to three feet away from the DJ when he asked him to turn the music off. Greenhill does not remember using foul language that night, and he testified that the basis for the closure was for the health and safety of the public, including passersby and patrons inside.

Prevas continued with his case, noting that he had subpoenaed Inspector Brooks to testify, but that she was not present. Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth explained that Ms. Brooks is on leave and will not be back at work until probably October. Prevas then moved to dismiss the two charges. Chairman Ward granted the motion with respect to the Rule 3.12 violation, because Detective Greenhill’s testimony did not substantiate the charge that the police and inspector witnessed fights outside the club. Chairman Ward denied Prevas’ motion with respect to the second charge.

Prevas called the DJ from the night in question, Mr. Terrence Santos, to testify. He has worked at the establishment for 13 years. He did not observe any fights. Santos testified that no one told him to turn the music off until Detective Greenhill came inside. Santos said that Greenhill shouted “cut the goddamned music off!” and was not in uniform. Santos said that he did not realize that Greenhill was a police officer and did not see his badge or vest. Shortly thereafter, a uniformed police officer came into the establishment with a manager and told Santos to turn the music off; Santos says that he obeyed immediately. When asked whether he became upset with the police, Santos said, “I kinda sorta … yes.”

Mr. Raynard Dana Owens, the manager on the night in question, testified next. Detective Greenhill had thought that Raynard was Donald Owens, the licensee, but Raynard was present and Donald was not on the night in question. Reynard said that he knew Detective Greenhill from “several several several several visits” to the establishment. According to Owens, Greenhill told him, “I’m shutting you down.” Owens asked, “For what?” Greenhill replied, “my officers don’t have time to be coming out here to this place. There’s been two fights, and I just want you to shut down.” Owens then responded, “well, if you’re going to shut me down, can you call the Duty Chief. The Duty Officer [] normally is the person who assesses the situation and shuts the place down.” Greenhill said, “I have the authority to [shut the bar down] and the Duty Chief won’t do anything but call me to come down here and make that decision.” Owens explained that, one time, a police officer tried to shut down his bar, but the Duty Chief overruled the officer’s decision. At that point, Detective Greenhill asked Inspector Brooks to deal with Mr. Owens. Brooks advised Mr. Owens, that since it was 1:30am, he should just close the bar; his regular closing time is 1:45 or 2:00am anyway. Owens told the Board that Brooks told him that “this would not be a reported incident.” Commissioner Jones asked Detective Greenhill to respond to the last comment made by Mr. Owens, and Greenhill said that it might not have been a reported incident from Brooks, but “as far as any acts of violence that happen at bars, we (the police) have to report them.”

Prevas closed by pointing out that Rule 3.02 states that “licensees shall cooperate” and argued that a DJ is not within the ambit of the rule. Prevas noted that the DJ’s testimony was that he did cooperate and he should be found not guilty.

Zoning B-4-1
Neighborhood Downtown
Area demographics 39% White, 37% Black, 16% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,146; 18% households live below poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
Location of entity’s principal office 608 W. Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21201
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support ~5
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police 1
Result of hearing Responsible for charge. $2,000 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Chairman Ward stated, in response to Prevas’s suggestion that the licensee shouldn’t be responsible for the DJ’s actions, that a licensee is always responsible for conduct of customers, and he or she is certainly responsible for the conduct of his employees. Ward added that it was clear to Mr. Santos that he was to shut down regardless of whom told him to shut down. He also pointed out that, in his opinion, Mr. Owens also refused to cooperate, by requiring confirmation by the Duty Officer before he would shut the bar down. Lack of cooperation, said Ward, is very serious. He noted that the location of 606-08 W Lexington St is in a problem area of Baltimore City and that bars in this area have a responsibility to be extra cautious. For Mr. Owens to ask for a Duty Officer is the height of noncooperation.

Commissioner Moore agreed with Judge Ward and said that if there had been evidence offered regarding the fights outside, there would have been a different (presumably harsher) result. She then addressed Detective Greenhill and the police officers present in the room, saying “witnesses that have evidence should look at the evidence. You got the video; oh gee whiz, look at it! See what you see, and then come testify about it.”

Jones agreed with the other two commissioners. He said, “even the tone with which Mr. Owens testified is agitated to me.” However, he disagreed with the fine; he thought it was too high for a first offense of this kind.

Prevas pointed out that, if this is the establishment’s first offense within three years, the highest fine that the Board can impose is $500, according to Article 2B. Ward retorted, “you’re lucky I didn’t close you down!” Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth noted that it was actually not the first offense within three years; there was a previous violation of Rule 4.18 in 2012, so the $2,000 fine was lawful.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Start time on video 14:30
Licensees Byoung Wook An & Patrick Min
Business Name ACA Liquors, Inc.
Trading As Eric 500
Address 500 E. North Avenue
Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.01(a): “No licensee shall sell or furnish alcoholic beverages to any person under twenty-one (21) years of age or to any person with the knowledge that such person is purchasing or acquiring such beverages for consumption by any person under twenty-one (21) years of age” (Re: April 4, 2014, alcohol sold to an underage police cadet)

Hearing notes

Detective Abraham Gatto read from his report that Police Cadet Gregory McCoy, age 20, entered the establishment and paid $7.62 for a bottle of New Amsterdam. At no time was Cadet McCoy asked for ID. At this point, Commissioner Jones said that the licensee was not present. Ward replied, “too bad, they should be on time.” Cadet McCoy then verified the facts in Gatto’s report.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood East Baltimore Midway
Area demographics 1% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 38% households have children under age 18; median household income: $30,821.90
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 500 E. North Ave, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police 2
Result of hearing Responsible for violation. $1,500 fine (second offense)
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Start time on video 57:34
Licensees Michael White & Bruce Richardson
Business Name Sobo Taco Spot, LLC
Trading As Banditos
Address 1118 S. Charles Street
Type of License Class “D” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.05(a): “No licensee shall permit any person to consume alcoholic beverages on the licensed premises during hours when such sales are prohibited by law” (Re: July 12, 2014, Police observed patron with drinks after 2:00 am)

Hearing notes

Baltimore Police Detective Abraham Gatto happened to be at the location on July 12 around 1:00am, which is the required closing time for the restaurant. It was 5 minutes after 1am; Gatto looked through the windows and saw five patrons still seated at the bar, drinking. Gatto spoke with the manager on duty, Michael Lathroum, who explained that the five customers were friends of his or friends of the bartender, who were closing out their tab. Lathroum said that the drinks were poured prior to 1am, which Gatto could not confirm. Mr. Lathroum was cooperative and honesta about the situation, and Detective Gatto told the customers to leave the bar.

Preliminarily, Prevas pointed out that the charge read “patrons with drinks after 2am” when it really was patrons with drinks after 1am. Michael Lathroum, the manager who spoke with the officer testified and agreed with Gatto’s description of what happened. He apologized to the Board and said that it would not happen again. Latroum said that there were actually only two male customers, not five, who were waiting for three female bartenders to finish their shift.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Federal Hill
Area demographics 80% White, 12% Black, 4% Asian; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $78,578.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 1118 S Charles St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police 1
Result of hearing Responsible for charge. $500 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

The Chairman noted that a “couple of men waiting for three female bartenders is not too hard to understanding.” He suggested a $600 fine, but Commissioner Moore informed him that Article 2B restricts the Board to a maximum of a $500 fine for a first offense. Ward looked to Ms. Bailey-Hedgepeth and asked, “is that true?” She replied that it was.

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Start time on video 1:07:55
Licensee Kenneth Kirby
Business Name Pho Main, Inc.
Trading As Mat Jip Restaurant
Address 2101-03 Maryland Avenue
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.18: “No licensee shall commit or allow the commission on his premises of any act which shall be contrary to any federal, state or local statute, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet or morals” (Re: October 22, 2013, Inspector observed a live band performing, providing live entertainment without permission)

Violation of Rule 3.12: “Licensees shall operate their establishments in such a manner as to avoid disturbing the peace, safety, health, quiet and general welfare of the community” (Re: October 22, 2013, Inspector observed band playing extremely loud music)

Hearing notes

Liquor Board inspector Joann Martin testified that she was on 311 night duty on the night in question. She received a call reporting that the establishment had live music going, which they did not have permission from zoning or the Liquor Board to do. When she arrived, there was a crowd outside and inside and there was very loud live music playing in the rear of the building. She double-checked the license, which did not have live entertainment permission. She then talked to a promoter who was there that evening. She told the promoter that the music was “entirely too loud for the neighborhood.” She also told him that the licensee did not have permission to host live entertainment and told him to tell the band to stop. The promoter did not cooperate and refused to stop the music. Inspector Martin then called the police, who requested that a manager be present. The manager of the bar arrived and cooperated with the police and with Ms. Martin.

Mr. Samuel T. Daniels, former Executive Secretary of the Liquor Board, and consultant to the licensee, then cross-examined Ms. Martin. He asked her whether she employed a noise meter; she answered that she did not. He asked Martin whether there was a notice on the front of the building. She replied that there was a sign posting public notice for a BMZA (zoning) hearing on the owner’s application to hold live entertainment and dancing. Daniels asked whether Martin charged the licensee with noncooperation, and she responded that she did not.

Commissioner Jones asked a followup question about the sign posting notice for the hearing. Martin replied that it was her understanding that until the licensee has approval from zoning and the Liquor Board, they do not have permission to proceed with live entertainment. Posting the sign is merely evidence that the licensee has asked for permission, not that he has received it.

Mr. Daniels told the Board that the licensee has since received permission for live entertainment at a January 9, 2014 hearing. He noted that his client had already admitted responsibility for the October 2013 incident at the January 9 hearing and the Board did not charge the licensee with a violation at that time or penalize him for the violation. Ward noted, “I have no comment on anything the prior Board did, but I think you and I both know that’s got nothing to do with this.”

Mr. Daniels submitted a timeline of events to the Board:

  • October 1, 2013 – licensee applied to zoning for a use permit to add live entertainment and dancing.
  • October 7, 2013 – licensee sent a letter to David Tanner requesting a zoning hearing postponement in order to meet with the Charles Village Civic Association (CVCA)’s Land Use Committee, which met on November 5, 2013.
  • October 22, 2013 – licensee posted the required notice sign for the zoning hearing on the building.
  • November 5, 2013 – licenee met with CVCA and made a presentation regarding their plans. The licensee admitted to the October 22 incident, and admitted that they had been having live entertainment wrongfully before that point. Jointly, they finalized draft of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
  • November 12, 2013 – BMZA hearing: the board approved the application.
  • December 3, 2013 – licensee submitted an application for live entertainment to the Liquor Board.
  • January 9, 2014 – Liquor Board hearing; the Board approved the live entertainment request.

As evidence of what happened at the Liquor Board hearing on January 9, Mr. Daniels submitted a printout of the case summary from Booze News. In response, Chairman Ward said, “what has happened in the previous Board… I’m not going to say is a matter of astonishment, but it is not relevant.” Ward reiterated that a license is a privilege, not a right, and that the Board has the authority to deny a license at any time, even without complaints from the community. What the previous Liquor Board thought about the application for a license in this case has nothing to do with the inspector carrying forth properly through a complaint that she received and finding that the licensee was not obeying the law. The only question that the Board should consider, said Ward, is: did the licensee obey the law or did he not? Daniels replied that he is not questioning the charge or the inspector; he pointed out, “I have had a profesisonal relationship with Inspector Martin.” Ward piped in, “you might as well tell everybody that you had a relationship with me on a softball team for many years. You played on my softball team. … And I can say you were a good player.”

Ms. Sharon Guida testified as a community leader in favor of the licensee. She requested leniency on his behalf. The licensee has met with the community organizations in the area and has signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The community groups have followed up to make sure that the licensee complies with the provision. Chairman Ward thanked Ms. Guida for coming down to the hearing to speak in support of the licensee and for taking the time to work out agreements with licensees. Guida thanked the Board and noted that they do not have a general policy of leniency with licensees, but she thinks it is appropriate in this case.

Chairman Ward emphasized again that licensees must respect and obey the Liquor Board inspectors. He said, “we want these businesses to succeed, because a successful business is a good neighbor. An unsuccessful business is a bad neighbor. Daniels told Ward that he has already communicated this to the licensee and his staff. Daniels said that, with the licensee, “you had ignorance; ignorance that no longer exists and will not manifest at this establishment again.” He asked, “given the weight of everything, that there be some degree of mitigation.” It is “an operation that has righted itself. My point was not about another Board. It was about a fundamental fairness. We now are having to deal with something that [the prior Board] did.”

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Charles North
Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,331; 5.5% households live below poverty line.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 2101-03 Maryland Ave, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None, but Mr. Samuel T. Daniels, former Executive Secretary, served as consultant for the licensee.
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1
Result of hearing Responsible for charge. $1,000 fine for both charges ($500/each).
Vote tally Unanimous with respect to responsibility; 2-1 with respect to punishment (Moore & Jones in favor of $1,000 fine; Ward wanted $500 fine)
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision

Ward suggested a $500 fine for both charges together. Jones stated that he was initially thinking about suspension of the license, but the letter from the community led him to believe that the establishment had created a good relationship with them. Jones said that there should be a fine for both violations, $500 each. Moore agreed that the licensee was responsible on both violations. She was thinking about $500 for the first violation and $1,375 for the second. She found it very troubling that there was an ongoing violation, which Mr. Daniels referred to as a “mistake.” The treatment of the inspector is not acceptable.

She added, to Mr. Daniels, “I find the references to the prior Board… laughable is the word that comes to my mind. Disingenuous is probably accurate. This is the second time you’ve been in front of us, and it’s the second time that you’ve argued fault with the prior Board, but when you do that, I think of you as the prior Board, of at least part of it. … so I find that, when I hear it, it does not process well for me.”

Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
Start time on video 1:39:20
Licensees Christopher Nwaeze & Musibau Shittu
Business Name Taste International, Inc.
Trading As Taste International
Address 4314-16 Curtis Avenue
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.18: “No licensee shall commit or allow the commission on his premises of any act which shall be contrary to any federal, state or local statute, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, quiet or morals” (Re: May 4, 2014, police officer observed establishment operating with an expired liquor license”)

Hearing notes

Baltimore Police Detective L.C. Greenhill testified that on May 4, 2014, at 12:15am, he was conducting a bar check at the establishment. The licensee was not present but the manager, Musibau Shittu, was present. Greenhill had conducted a similar check in 2013; the establishment was not open during the 2013 check but all liquor licenses and permits were in order. On May 4, twenty to thirty patrons were inside watching a boxing match on various flat screen TVs. The liquor license for the establishment had expired as of April 30, 2014, and the health permit had expired on November 30, 2012. Mr. Shittu told Greenhill that his brother, the licensee for Oxygen, at 10 S. Calvert Street, was supposed to pick up the license for him. The new license had been paid for and was ready for pickup at the Liquor Board offices. Greenhill told Mr. Shittu that it is the responsibility of the management and licensees to pick up their liquor license and to ensure other permits are valid. Greenhill closed the establishment because of the expired license and permit. The trader’s license for the establishment was also expired as of April 30, 2014, but the agency in charge of trader’s licenses gives a 30-day grace period to businesses.

The licensee, Christopher Nwaeze, testified that what Detective Greenhill said is what happened. The license was picked up two days after Greenhill’s inspection. It had been ready to be picked up, but Mr. Nwaeze had a family emergency and did not make it to the Board. The health permit was also renewed.

Zoning B-2-2
Neighborhood Curtis Bay
Area demographics 48% White, 36% Black, 4% 2 or more races; 10% Hispanic ethnicity; 40% households have children under age 18; median household income: $33,644; 22% households live below the poverty line
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
Location of entity’s principal office 4314 Curtis Ave, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 0
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors/police 1
Result of hearing Responsible. $250 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

Finding 2 of the Legislative Audit showed that the BLLC often issued licenses (including renewals) before receiving all required documentation. In this case, the license was apparently ready to be picked up by the licensee, but the licensee had not yet received an up-to-date trader’s license, which is required. (The auditors reported: “BLLC knowingly issued a 2011-2012 alcoholic beverage license to 132 establishments without obtaining evidence of a current trader’s license and the files did not include the required documents almost one year later.” p19)

Start time on video 1:45:17
Licensee Brian Acquavella
Business Name SF Life, Inc.
Trading As Blue Agave Restaurant
Address 1032 Light Street
Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 3.11: “Licensees shall provide containers for the disposition of garbage and refuse material that conform with the requirements of the bureau of Sanitation of Baltimore City, shall keep such containers covered at all times, and shall remove all refuse material regularly to avoid accumulation” (Re: February 21, 2014, inspector found accumulated debris at establishment

Hearing notes

Executive Secretary Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth began the hearing by saying, “I’m asking for the Board to dismiss these charges, because I believe that the issue has been remedies by the licensee.” Ward asked, “the responsibility for the trash came from several locations, is that right?” Inspector Joann Martin replied, “that is correct.” Ward asked if Martin had any objection to Ms. Bailey-Hedgepeth’s motion to dismiss the case. Martin did not.

Ms. Bailey-Hedgepeth clarified further: the Board received a complaint in February 2014 that there were boxes and debris behind the establishment. Inspector Martin took photos of the trash and boxes, which were from other establishments. Since then, the licensee has put up a barrier to beautify the area, including a planter and a fence that mitigates the visual issues with the garbage.

Mr. Frank Shaulis commented that the debris was recycling, not garbage.

Commissioner Moore noted, “my understanding is that we’re dismissing not because there’s been abatement of the problem but rather because it was determined that the recycling or the trash, whatever, was not the responsibility of this licensee, and I think that’s really important that we make clear.”

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Federal Hill
Area demographics 80% White, 12% Black, 4% Asian; 3% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $78,578.
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 1032 Light St, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee Mr. Frank Shaulis.
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 0
# of inspectors 1
Result of hearing Dismissed
Vote tally Unanimous
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

Commissioner Moore’s clarification about the abatement of the trash was helpful; however, it was not entirely clear from the hearing whether the trash was found on the licensed property or whether it was actually located on the neighboring (nonlicensed) property. The issue is not so much whom the trash belonged to, but whether the trash ended up on the licensed premises. Licensees are required to keep their premises clean and orderly, no matter the source of the trash; if trash from another property ends up on the licensed property, it is still the licensee’s responsibility to clean it up.

Start time on video 1:47:46
Licensees Jin Suk Kim, Kil Ja Kim & Andrew Ki Nam Kim
Business Name Jin Suk Kim, Inc.
Trading As Ebony Towne Store
Address 1801 W. North Avenue
Type of License Class “ A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
Reason for hearing

Violation of Rule 4.01: “No licensee shall sell or furnish alcoholic beverages to any person under twenty-one (21) years of age or to any person with the knowledge that such person is purchasing or acquiring such beverages for consumption by any person under twenty-one (21) years of age” (Re: January 31, 2014, alcohol was sold to an underage police cadet)

Hearing notes

Baltimore Police Detective L.C. Greenhill testified from his report that on January 31, 2014, as part of an underage alcohol sales investigation, Police Cadet Gregory McCoy, 20 years old, purchased 375 ml of Paul Masson brandy for $6.45. When the police entered the establishment, the departmental $20 bill which McCoy used to purchase the alcohol was not in the register. The police asked the licensee, Mr. Kim, where he put the bill. Kim said that he did not have the bill and did not know where it was. There was a blue mat next to the register with money tucked underneath it. The departmental $20 bill was under the mat. The detectives asked Kim why the bill was under the mat, and Kim refused to answer further questions and refused to cooperate. Police Cadet Gregory McCoy verified Detective Greenhill’s testimony.

Dr. Marvin Cheatham, the president of the Matthew A Hensen Neighborhood Association, then testified about the impact that liquor licenses have on his community. The Matthew A Hensen Neighborhood Association has existed since 1963, and its borders are: Presstman Street, N. Fulton Avenue, W. North Avenue, and Ruxton Avenue. He asked the Board to suggest to businesses that they develop a relationship with the community and its organizations. His group has attempted to reach out to the businesses within their boundaries.

In response, Chairman Ward noted that he has instructed the Executive Secretary to keep a confidential list of complaints about licensed establishments and to send inspectors out to those places. Ward said, “we don’t have enough inspectors to inspect 1,500 bars with any frequency. We rely on people like you to report problems.”

Ward then asked the licensees whether they understood English; neither of them seemed to understand his question. He asked them why they hid the $20 bill under the mat, and Mr. Kim explained in halting English that he was making change.

Zoning B-2-3
Neighborhood Sandtown-Winchester
Area demographics 1% White, 96% Black, 0% Asian; 0% Hispanic ethnicity; 34% households have children under age 18; median household income: $23,974
Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
Location of entity’s principal office 1801 W. North Ave, Baltimore, MD
Attorney for licensee None
# in support 2
Attorney for community None
# of protestants 1
# of inspectors/police 1
Result of hearing Responsible for charge. $500 fine.
Vote tally Unanimous.
Portions of state law cited in decision None
Other reasons given for decision None
Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

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